Review: Radisson Blu Farnham Estate, Cavan
Ease of access is a big reason to visit this cosy Cavan bolthole. Children dropped off to grandparents and then a straight road all the way to the hotel in less than two hours from Dublin. Job done.
HIGHLIGHTS: The hotel seems to inhabit its own self-contained universe seeing as the Estate is set on 1,300 acres with over two hours' worth of walks surrounded by a stunning variety of trees such as pine and ancient redwood. Farnham is a meshing of the old and new with the original house merged with ultra-modern annexes.
The spacious reception makes use of this for visual impact, with the portico of the old house incorporated into the foyer. If the great outdoors are not for you (or golf - there is a quality 18-hole course), Farnham has an excellent health spa.
The flagship attraction boasts an indoor pool, which in turn can access its outdoor partner through a sliding door - quite the novelty - along with a Thermal Suite that houses a range of hot-and-cold treatments, some traditional (Finnish sauna), some more new-age (amethyst-salt inhalation room). The suite and pool is available to all guests, but there is also an array of treatments, including the signature Crann na Beatha (Tree of Life), which makes use of óGRA peat products, evoking a sense of Celtic mysticism.
LOWLIGHTS: Despite its old-world elements, the hotel can seem sterile, with the mezzanine bar resembling that of an airport terminal. The individual elements of the Tree of Life treatment itself were excellent but it did not flow that well as the relaxing mood could not be completely maintained, with minor issues like a leaky shower door. If you are seeking an intimate, quiet atmosphere, Farnham may not suit you, because with all the hens and weddings, you will constantly be on the periphery of someone else's party.
ASK FOR ROOM NUMBER: Apart from the suites, all the rooms are standard. However, for a nice view, ask for a north-west facing one on the second floor so that you overlook the walkways - which is especially pleasant with the floor-to-ceiling windows.
CONCIERGE'S CHOICE: If you are inclined to leave all the hotel has to offer, Cavan is known as lake country so if angling and boating is your bag, then this is the perfect spot. There is also the Cavan Burren, situated about three kilometres south of Blacklion and north-west of Cuilcagh Mountain, one of the finest relict landscapes in Ireland (cavanburren.ie).
RATES: Going to press, one night B&B plus dinner for two at the weekend was E280. CONTACT: 049 437 7700 / farnhamestate.ie for more information. (AOD)